Riley Keough’s Promising Film Career Cut Short After Her Death

Riley Keough burst onto the scene in 2010 with a breakout role in The Runaways and seemed destined for big things in Hollywood. The granddaughter of Elvis Presley and daughter of Lisa Marie Presley, acting talent clearly ran in Riley’s veins. Over the next decade, she built up an impressive resume with roles in over 20 films working with renowned directors like Steven Soderbergh, Andrea Arnold, and David Robert Mitchell.

Riley’s career was gaining serious momentum before her shocking and untimely death at age 27 in July 2022. She had just completed filming on the upcoming Prime Video series Daisy Jones & The Six, which will mark her final on-screen performance when it debuts in early 2023. Riley’s potential stardom was within reach, leaving fans to wonder what could have been for this gifted young actor gone too soon.

Overview of Riley Keough’s Film Career Highlights

  • Breakout role as a 1970s rock star in The Runaways (2010)
  • Indie film cred with parts in American Honey and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
  • Leading lady in It Comes at Night and Logan Lucky (2017)
  • Festival favorite for supporting turns in Zola and The Devil All The Time (2020)
  • Upcoming posthumous release of Daisy Jones & The Six TV series (2023)

Riley showed dedication to her craft and an ability to disappear into dramatically different roles throughout her 12 years in the spotlight. She leveraged her famous family connections to get her foot in the Hollywood door but ultimately carved her own unique path thanks to raw talent.

Detailed Timeline of Riley Keough’s Film and TV Roles

2010-2013: Launching Her Career

Riley’s first major role came as the rebellious 1970s rocker Marie Currie in the biopic The Runaways at age 19. She held her own alongside Kristen Stewart’s Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning’s Cherie Currie. This breakout performance landed Riley on Variety’s list of “10 Actors to Watch” in 2010.

She followed up with minor parts in blockbusters like The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and Jack and Diane. Her most notable role in this early stage was the 2013 magic realism indie The Waiting starring Jena Malone. Riley played the lead character’s enigmatic love interest.

2014-2016: Gaining Notice in Indies

In 2014, Riley first worked with director Steven Soderbergh on the Cinemax series The Knick. This marked the beginning of an important collaborative relationship, with Soderbergh casting Riley in several more projects over the years.

Riley started to gain indie cred in 2015 with parts in Mad Max: Fury Road and American Honey. The latter featured Shia LaBeouf and Riley as runaway lovers in director Andrea Arnold’s free-spirited film that won the Jury Prize at Cannes.

She also appeared in the horror film Experimenter and had a minor role in legendary director Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

2017-2019: Leading Lady Breakthroughs

2017 proved to be a breakout year for Riley as a leading lady in the indie horror hit It Comes at Night and Steven Soderbergh’s Southern heist film Logan Lucky. She held her own alongside seasoned actors Joel Edgerton and Channing Tatum in the latter.

In 2018, Riley reunited with Soderbergh for the iPhone-shot psychological thriller Unsane. She also starred in the drama American Animals and had a minor part in the sci-fi film Kin.

2019 saw Riley return to TV in the short-lived series The Loudest Voice about the rise and fall of Roger Ailes. She also appeared in the festival favorite The Lodge, a bone-chilling horror with Riley as one half of a siblings pair snowed in with their stepmother.

2020-2022: Widespread Acclaim in Supporting Roles

Riley earned career-best reviews in 2020 for her supporting turns in two buzzy indie films: Janicza Bravo’s wild ride Zola co-starring Taylour Paige and The Devil All The Time with Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson.

2021 was a relatively quiet year for Riley besides a small role in Justin Bieber’s music video for “Ghost”. Her only major credit was the Netflix sci-fi thriller Kate co-starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

Riley kicked off a busy 2022 with the release of Under the Banner of Heaven, a Hulu miniseries based on Jon Krakauer’s true crime bestseller. She played the wife of Andrew Garfield’s Mormon detective character.

Her final projects were Michael Mann’s Ferrari biopic starring Adam Driver and the Prime Video series Daisy Jones & The Six. Riley’s performance as the lead singer of a fictional 70s rock band promises to be a fitting swan song.

Analysis of Riley Keough’s Acting Style and Abilities

Mesmerizing Screen Presence

Riley Keough had an undeniable charisma and magnetism on screen. Directors like Andrea Arnold described being drawn to Riley’s “mysterious aura” and enigmatic quality. She effortlessly commanded attention even in supporting roles.

Riley exuded a laidback confidence and wisdom beyond her years. When given leading parts, she anchored films with a compelling mix of fragility and strength.

disappeared into Dramatically Different Characters

Chameleonic range was among Riley’s greatest assets. She completely transformed for each new role thanks to an ability to lose herself in the character psychologically.

Riley could be eerily chilling in The Lodge before pivoting to play a foul-mouthed hustler in Zola with equal conviction. She showed off comedic chops in Logan Lucky as well.

Raw, Unaffected Acting Style

Riley’s performances came across as startlingly real and natural, free of overly polished “actorly” mannerisms. She tapped into an emotional rawness in dark indie films like It Comes at Night.

Directors praised Riley’s lack of ego and willingness to strip away vanity for gritty roles. She took risks others might avoid to fully commit to a character’s reality.

Wise Beyond Her Years

For someone who accomplished so much at a young age, Riley displayed a maturity and gravitas beyond her years on screen. She adeptly handled leading lady roles most actors do not get until their 30s.

Riley had an old soul quality that enabled her to be entirely believable as a pioneering rocker in the 1970s or a weary pioneer wife in the 19th century. She accessed a rich inner life.

Why Riley Keough’s Death Was Such a Loss for Hollywood

She Was Just Hitting Her Stride

After spending her early 20s in minor roles, Riley had emerged as a leading lady by 2017 when she was only 27. Most actors take far longer to achieve that breakthrough moment.

Riley’s career was clearly accelerating with increasingly meaty roles offered by high-profile directors. Her potential felt limitless, making her passing at just 27 doubly tragic.

Loss of a Rising Indie Darling

Riley Keough was becoming an anchor of prestige indie films like American Honey and It Comes at Night. She lent these small passion projects an invaluable dose of star power and audience awareness.

The indie film community relies on talented young actors like Riley to keep pumping new blood into the space. Her absence leaves a gaping hole.

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Cut Short a Budding Soderbergh Collaboration

Steven Soderbergh was an early champion of Riley’s talent, seeing her potential and providing career-boosting roles. Logan Lucky felt like the start of a long, fruitful director-actor partnership that is now sadly unrealized.

Soderbergh is renowned for repeatedly working with a close-knit group of actors. Riley seemed poised to enter that inner circle before her untimely death.

Robbed Us of Future Brilliance

It is simply devastating to think of all the incredible performances we will now never get to see from Riley Keough, who was only scratching the surface of her skills.

She clearly took her craft seriously, and no doubt would have continued to impress as she matured. Riley’s vast potential for career longevity makes her early passing a cultural tragedy.

FAQs About Riley Keough’s Life and Career

Who were Riley Keough’s most famous family members?

  • Riley’s grandfather was the legendary musician Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll. Her grandmother was actress Priscilla Presley.
  • Her mother is Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis’s only child. Riley’s father is musician Danny Keough.
  • Riley’s famous family connections helped open doors early in her career. But she carved her own path over time.

How did Riley Keough get her start as an actress?

  • Riley’s first major role came at age 19 in the 2010 film The Runaways where she played 1970s rocker Marie Currie.
  • Growing up in Los Angeles exposed Riley to the entertainment industry. She began auditioning as a teenager and took acting classes.
  • Her breakout in The Runaways landed Riley on industry watch lists for young actors to keep an eye on.

What was Riley Keough’s breakthrough role?

  • Riley first gained wide notice for her performance as the rebellious Marie Currie in 2010’s The Runaways opposite Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning.
  • But her true star-making leading lady role came in 2017’s arthouse horror hit It Comes at Night co-starring Joel Edgerton.
  • Other key breakthroughs included roles in American Honey and Logan Lucky, both in 2015.

What was Riley Keough’s reputation as an actress?

  • Directors praised Riley for her raw, unaffected acting style and ability to completely transform for each role.
  • She was known for taking risks and committing fully to emotionally difficult characters without vanity.
  • Riley brought a laidback charisma, intelligence and maturity to her roles that belied her youth.

Why is Riley Keough’s role in Daisy Jones & The Six so poignant?

  • Riley passed away in July 2022 shortly after completing filming on the Prime Video series Daisy Jones & The Six.
  • She plays the lead singer of a fictional 1970s rock band in what will now be her final on-screen role.
  • The rock and roll theme provides a fitting swan song for the talented granddaughter of Elvis Presley.


Riley Keough’s sudden death at just 27 years old is a tragedy on many levels. Professionally, Hollywood lost an undeniably gifted rising star and indie film darling still in the early stages of what promised to be a long, acclaimed acting career.

Personally, family, friends and co-stars lost a kind, grounded woman wise beyond her years. Riley’s memory lives on through a string of impressive performances showing maturity, charisma and chameleonic range.

She managed to build an independent identity and reputation despite her legendary music royalty lineage. Riley Keough shone brightly in her short time on earth, leaving behind a compelling body of work and memories of a lovely spirit gone far too soon.

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